The Stone Independent School
Education is not preparation for life -- education is life itself.
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Notes From Stone

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Stone Independent Parent Update


Dear Stone Parents,

I hope you’ve all had a largely successful Spring Snow Week. 

We're heading into a very busy week around Stone (with a few large Admissions, Curriculum, and licensing elements to grapple with) and to that end I thought I'd send out a few updates on what we've been up to before we get too caught up in the minutiae of next week:  

1.  We had a great turn-out last week for our first “Music Under the Stairs” event — Ton-Taun played for close to forty minutes, we recorded audio and video of the event (which we will share on our burgeoning blog sometime soon), and we held a quick 10-15 minute meeting with eight Stone students and four Stone faculty members.  As you get to know me you’ll come to realize I’m a total sucker for such things, but still: it was incredibly powerful just to get our students and teachers together for the first time.  We talked briefly about what we need to work on next -- largely the "look and feel" of our small Upper School; specifically how we might construct our first Student Government and student handbook -- and also when we might get together for a hike and a cook-out, and also how we might communicate between now and the beginning of the year.

Developing meaningful, outward facing, very active music programming is so important to the school we intend to become.  We are going to build out the Music Under the Stairs program with monthly shows, and this Fall we will turn it over to our interested students -- they will have the opportunity to work directly with local musicians and bands, to dig into the audio/video recording process, to market and advertise the program, and to perform in it, etc. etc.  If we do this kind of work well we invite opportunities to collaborate with some really amazing local companies -- Rock Lititz, for example, with whom we have many great relationships -- and develop exactly the kind of complex, real-world learning opportunities that are central to true 21st century education.

We have also begun working with a local music director and teacher who we think will help us develop the kind of internal music program that truly fits "Stone" -- one which will be collaborative, and innovative, and a little..."different".  Though this may be slow going in the beginning, it will be critical to our success that we build a music (and performing arts) program that is inward and outward facing, that nurtures the kind of collaborative creative energy that will power everything our school does well.

2.  Speaking of communicating with our students, Stone uses "Slack" -- a robust and popular communications/messaging app -- to handle 95% of our internal communications (you'll find, ironically, that I'm a little suspicious of how efficient email is).  We are considering creating a "slack-channel" for our students (which you are welcome to join, monitor, participate in, etc) -- so that we can build rapport with our students and share with them: ideas for the school, events we are interested in, podcasts, books, albums, etc.  We are a few weeks away from actually putting this in play but for now you may wish to investigate Slack just a little in order to understand where we are going with this.

3.  Speaking of communicating, we've had a run of very exciting meetings over the past few weeks.  As I say often, Stone is only successful when we open wide our doors to this amazing community and invite everyone to participate, and to that end I wanted to share briefly with you two such exciting meetings from just yesterday -- the first with Joe DiGarbo from Lancaster Friends Meeting and the second with beekeeper/expert on All Things Fermenting Lori Stahl.

Joe is very interested in Stone, and is interested in seeing how we might collaborate with some of the work the local Quaker communities are involved in; he's also a facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project and he travels around the world monitoring elections and creating dialogue between adversarial communities.  We both left feeling like there's a lot of overlap between our missions and as such a lot of opportunities to partner in the very near future.  

Lori will be helping us install and care for beehives -- she will also connect us to the PA Beekeepers Association and help align our "beekeeping program" with our curriculum, and our entrepreneurship program, and our sustainability programming.  I see so many amazing learning opportunities which may develop from this program -- like: direct connections to the Lancaster Conservancy, and to our science curriculum, and to local organic farms and food growers, and even the possibility of a student-operated small business --and we've already received a preliminary thumbs-up from the city to further explore this opportunity.  Bring on the Bees! (#mascotopportunity).

4.  In case I haven't said it enough times already, we’re in Fig this month (on page 43, in fact). 

5.  We've begun to grow our Board.  I know we haven't yet connected our families to our Board of Trustees -- that's a must, and we'll begin working on that this summer -- but I wanted to let you know that we recently added Melissa Baez of Assets to our Board which brings us to 11 Trustees (Richard Levengood, Michaele Ruzow, Mike Mersky, Joe Monaghan, Karen West, Mary Cae Williams, Mark Atlee, Jason Confair, Melissa Baez, Susan Rohr, and me, as well as Board Emeritus Doug Weidman).  We are in the process of adding three additional Trustees (who I will introduce to you soon) and positioning the Board for the Fall.  Here I will tell you that when our school "opens", we are bound by our bylaws to add at least one parent, one faculty member, and one member of our senior class (when we have one) as full-voting members of our Board. Much more to come on this front.

6.  And lastly, some general detritus.  We’ve officially enrolled ten students — and we remain pretty certain we’ll be right around 15 by the end of the month (which is so, so awesome).  We’ve had a few great conversations around town with potential allies and supporters; we’ve submitted our application to PIAA (#mascottime); our new -- sort of wonky, but still -- website is up and running; our email and social media has been switched over to the new name; and we've spent a little time considering "Stone Gear" which we may share with you soon.  Think: cool trucker hats!  

Please don't ever hesitate to email me, to call/text, or to swing by Stone.  We're so grateful for the opportunity to partner with you and we can't wait to see where this collaboration takes us all.

My best,


Mike Simpson